Overseas student numbers fall

New figures show there has been a fall in the number of students from outside of the EU applying to study in the UK.

In the year ended June 2016, sponsored visa applications from non-EU nationals for study at universities fell by 2 per cent to 163,338, according to new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures.

What’s more, the falls in sponsored visa applications to study at English language schools, and in the further education sector at other educational institutions, were bigger than in those to study at universities (25 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively).

A tightening of student visa rules in recent years, including the abolition of post-study work visas, is seen as a key reason behind the fall in applications.

It is feared that overseas student numbers could continue to fall in the coming years. Reports in the British media suggest that the UK government is planning a further crackdown on student visas, while the impact Brexit has on EU students choosing to study in the country is yet to be seen.

A Universities UK spokesman said: “Although the UK continues to be one of the most attractive destinations in the world for international students and staff, recruitment figures over the last few years have not done justice to our potential to increase our success in this global growth area.”

He added that “the UK needs a new government strategy to encourage more international students and academics to come to the UK. This is more important than ever as the UK looks to enhance its place in the world post-Brexit”.

The ONS figures show that China is by far the biggest source of students coming to the UK.

China accounted for 34 per cent of study visas granted in the year to June, followed by the US (7 per cent), India (5 per cent), Malaysia (5 per cent) and Hong Kong (4 per cent).

 Article published 26th August 2016